personal colours – is black slimming…?

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

personal colour - is black slimming?

In Western society, designers, media and retailers often state black is slimming, yet they don’t explain what they base this on… This got me thinking about the properties of black in relation to this commonly held belief.

If we look at black, we see it is the total absorption of all light and along with it, colour (as colour is light).  Therefore if something is black it is dense, making it look heavy.

Look at the picture below, which one looks heavier, weightier?

personal colour - black and white shoes.

So if black makes an object look heavier, weightier, how does wearing black make one look slimmer?

What might actually be happening is given that black conceals, it camouflages the body and by not standing out, you’re not drawing attention to yourself…. rather than black actually making you look slimmer.

The commonly held belief that black is slimming is probably perpetuated by a culturally conditioned association over many decades continually made by designers, media and retailers.

What do you think?

Shoe image via irdatacorp.com.

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12 Comments

  1. Tamsin Fox-Davies on August 31, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Yep, I’ve fallen for this one in the past! It’s like vertical stripes being slimming – that’s a myth too (and I heard that on QI so it MUST be true!).

    • admin on September 2, 2011 at 11:26 am

      You raised another interesting point on vertical and horizontal stripes. Maybe another blog topic.

  2. Denise on September 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I think it hides a lot of ‘bumps and creases’ as these tend not to stand out so much.

    • admin on September 2, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Hi Denise, yes that’s the illusion it creates. It’s the total absorption of colour that creates that.

  3. David Randall on September 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    The, “little black picture frame,” is used probably more than any other today. Everyone thinks it can go with anything. After over 40 years of custom framing, I’m very careful about placing a black frame on anything. It’s a very heavy statement. If you are not careful, it can be too heavy and distracting.

    • admin on September 2, 2011 at 10:52 am

      Hi David, thank you for sharing this interesting perspective. It’s not dis-similar to frame wearing black can create.

  4. Paola Minekov on September 2, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I’m not sure about clothes… never paid too much attention really but I agree with the picture framing comment. I tend to avoid randomly using black frames for my art.

    • admin on September 2, 2011 at 11:30 am

      I can understand your tenancy to avoid using black frames given the subtle colours you generally use.

  5. Felicity Lerouge on September 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    It’s a fascinating thought that black makes us “disappear” rather than slimming us. I don’t have much black in my wardrobe because it always makes me feel dull. Maybe I don’t feel as connected to people because of the invisibility factor, when I’m wearing it.

    • admin on September 6, 2011 at 7:39 am

      Hi Felicity, really interesting points you make. That’s takes us to a whole other side of black – the psychology of black. That will be another blog post ūüôā

  6. Tanya Rennick on September 3, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I wear black almost all the time! I am wearing black as I write… I adore it’s simplicity and easy chic. I do have other colours in my wardrobe but I often regret not wearing my LBD, or plain black trousers. Perhaps I am a closet wallflower? I think not! I love the darkness, I think it suits my personality and besides, as Denise says, it hides the “bumps and creases” – dearest D, do you mean on one’s self, or the frock? ūüėÄ

    • admin on September 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      For the right personality type black will look stunning. On the rest of us it will do the opposite, making us looked drained and tired and needing to wear a lot of make-up to look good.

      I personally don’t wear black as it doesn’t suit my personality. I wear other colours to give me those positive feelings that black expresses.

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